Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Contact the Seattle City Council about the Tunnel

The following is reproduced with permission from my always thoughtful and well-informed friend Justin. If interested, you need to act NOW since the council is very close to a vote!


Hello Friends,

As you know, our political and business establishment has chosen to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a multi-billion dollar tunnel. The City Council has calcified around this position, despite the huge environmental and financial risks, and despite the fact that voters decisively rejected a similar tunnel when it was offered to them. This mega project will make Seattle the only city in the country to rebuild a major freeway along its waterfront---and will mean we have lost a once in a generation opportunity to change the way we live in and get around our city. We are all committed to moving toward a more sustainable way of living in our lifetimes, and this project represents one of our chances to put that commitment into action.

If you care about this issue at all, now is a critical time to do something about it.

This email is to urge you to CONTACT OUR CITY COUNCILPEOPLE, who are preparing to sign contracts with the State to approve work on the tunnel. There is a burgeoning opposition to the tunnel, and it is clear that the Council is starting to feel the pressure. In my phone calls to their staff, I sense growing exasperation with the political consequences they will face if they move ahead. But by this point, I'm just one of the crackpots they hear from all the time. But you...you're just an average citizen!

In other words...NOW IS A REALLY OPPORTUNE TIME TO LET THE COUNCIL KNOW YOU DON'T SUPPORT THE TUNNEL. Two important amendments to the contracts have been proposed. One from the Mayor would make sure the City is not responsible for cost overruns. The other, proposed by Councilperson O'Brien, would allow the City to opt out of the contract if bids come in way over budget. LET THE COUNCIL KNOW THAT IF THEY INSIST ON MOVING FORWARD, IT IS ONLY PRUDENT TO INCLUDE THESE TWO AMENDMENTS IN ORDER TO SAFEGUARD OUR CITIZENS. For more information on the huge environmental and financial risks, read this recent Stranger article (http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/what-could-possibly-go-wrong/Content?oid=4399657), or see my few bits of info below.

Focus on calling:

Tom Rasmussen, chair of the Transportation Committee

Nick Licata (usually a reliable lefty, for some reason not reliable on this, but certainly the most easily swayed)

Richard Conlin, Council President and die-hard tunnel supporter and erstwhile "environmentalist." Also totally disingenuous on the cost overrun issue.

But if you've got time, go ahead and call them all...it's fun!
Jean Godden (also on Transportation committee): jean.godden@seattle.gov, 684.8807
Tim Burgess (also on Transportation committee): tim.burgess@seattle.gov, 684.8806
Sally Bagshaw (big supporter): sally.bagshaw@seattle.gov, 684.8801
Bruce Harrell: bruce.harrell@seattle.gov, 684.8804
Sally Clark: sally.clark@seattle.gov, 684.8002

-We all agree that we must take immediate steps to reduce our carbon emissions, and a brand new freeway moves us in the opposite direction.
-An alternative proposal---making improvements throughout the surface grid, fixing an I-5 bottleneck, and a comprehensive investment in public transit---was deemed feasible by the State, and costs far less.

-The tunnel is the most expensive option the State considered. All told, it will cost more than $4 billion.
-The City's portion of that (just under a billion) is equal to all the levies we pay (the Parks levy, the Housing Levy, Families and Education Levy, etc) combined. Do we really value 1.5 miles of highway as much as we value parks, education, services for the homeless, and more?

-For the first time in state history, the Legislature has said that the citizens of Seattle are responsible for the cost overruns on a State highway project.
-An Oxford study found that 90% of tunnel megaprojects go over budget, with an average of around 30% over. For this tunnel, that would be hundreds of millions of dollars on our backs.
-I've personally called each of the councilmembers several times to ask what will hapen if there are cost overruns. I have yet to hear a plan. They say the law isn't actually the law, or that there magically won't be any overruns.

-The machine to bore the tunnel will be the largest ever built---and will be as big as one of the ferries out on Puget Sound.
-A similar machine has been stuck in a similar tunnel in similar soils in Snohomish County for a year now---resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in cost overruns.

1 comment:

Desomniac said...

Unfortunately I think I've been labeled a "crack pot" as well. That hasn't stopped me though.